Frank Johnson

This collection began with the Kentucky Oral History Commission’s effort to establish oral history programs in each of the state’s 120 counties. County libraries worked with local volunteers to collect interviews. Since 1987, county oral histories have been generated primarily by recipients of technical assistance grants from the commission that provide training and equipment to volunteer interviewers. Interviews donated by independent researchers are also included. Original collection held at Kentucky Oral History Commission/Kentucky Historical Society Access copies available at Lincoln County Public Library. Authorization must by granted by KHS to use or publish by any means the archival material to which the Society holds copyright.

LINCOLN COUNTY ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW 

FRANK JOHNSON INTERVIEWED BY ELSIE MATHENY 

March 8, 1977  

Ms. Matheny: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Mr. Frank Johnson of Crab Orchard, at Stanford, Kentucky by Elsie C. Matheny, interviewer for the Kentucky Bicentennial Oral History Project on March 8, 1977 at two o’clock.  Frank, I’ve been informed that you have lived in Crab Orchard for a long time and have been interested in the Lincoln County Educational system.  Is that correct? 

Mr. Johnson: That is right. 

Ms. Matheny: You have also taught in the Lincoln County system.  Can you tell me something about how you first started, where you first started teaching? 

Mr. Johnson: In a one room school on Stanford…Cedar Ridge… 150 (sic). 

Ms. Matheny: And, where is that…is that building still in existence today? 

Mr. Johnson: The little building is standing there, yes, right behind Mr. Weaver’s farm…dairy (sic) farm. 

Ms. Matheny: And, it’s used just a residence, I presume, now? 

Mr. Johnson: That’s right. 

Ms. Matheny: Okay, where did you go from there, Frank? 

Mr. Johnson: Went from there, from that little school, to the other side of Crab Orchard, out on 39, called White Oak. 

Ms. Matheny: So, you’ve had a lot of experience in one room schools. 

Mr. Johnson: That is right. 

Ms. Matheny: And, did you teach in Crab Orchard at any time? 

Mr. Johnson: We taught in them schools by moving to Crab Orchard, that was back, I reckon, to Crab Orchard…. 

Ms. Matheny: And…. 

Mr. Johnson: And, both schools combined at that time. 

Ms. Matheny: And, how many teachers were in the school at that time? 

Mr. Johnson: Two. 

Ms. Matheny: How many grades did you teach in the school? 

Mr. Johnson: When I began, I taught all eight of the grades.  I had about 40 children in all eight of the grades. 

Ms. Matheny: And, after you left the Crab Orchard School, where did you go after that, Frank? 

Mr. Johnson: I went to Louisville (sic) for a little while, at a {   }. 

Ms. Matheny: And…but Crab Orchard called you back? 

Mr. Johnson: I came back…when I came back…I came back to Stanford and taught and 

{   } for one year at Lincoln High School. 

Ms. Matheny: Well, was that at the time or close to the time of the integration of the schools, or not? 

Mr. Johnson: No, that was about 1943. 

Ms. Matheny: 1943; and then you taught in another school in the county after that? 

Mr. Johnson: I taught at Boneyville (sic) after that. 

Ms. Matheny: And, how long did you teach there? 

Mr. Johnson: 15 years. 

Ms. Matheny: 15 years; well, I’ve also been told that you have some information concerning how the black children were transported from their various places in Crab Orchard to the Stanford High School when it was all a black school…Lincoln County High School, rather, when it was an all black school. 

Mr. Johnson: They started out hitch-hiking, catching rides on…any way they could. 

Ms. Matheny: Well, did that continue very long? 

Mr. Johnson: That continued about…oh, about, four years or such. 

Ms. Matheny: And, of course, that didn’t prove satisfactory, and what method did they use after that to get to school? 

Mr. Johnson: They began to be transported by a conventional school bus, along with the white, for a short time. 

Ms. Matheny: Now, can you just…in your own words, tell me about that; the progress of that? 

Mr. Johnson: They did fine, I separated them, and a young man by the name of William Bright began hauling them. 

Ms. Matheny: Well, but, I thought you had some information concerning the first school bus…. 

Mr. Johnson: Oh, the first school bus was driven by the Scott brothers, Ewing Scott and Marshall Scott. 

Ms. Matheny: Well, I thought that there was…at one time, they used an old hearse. 

Mr. Johnson: I think the hearse was used when they was transporting the two…the two…to grade school, one grade school, one from the Cedar Ridge to the Crab Orchard district. 

Ms. Matheny: Oh, I see.  Well, tell us about the start of that. 

Mr. Johnson: They started that about 1918; a man by the name of Sam McRoberts made a bus from an old…looked like an old horse drawn hearse. 

Ms. Matheny: You wouldn’t get children to ride in a hearse today, would you? 

Mr. Johnson: No; this hearse was drawn by…it was drawn by horse, until about 1920, then the Campbell brothers took it over, Oliver (sic) and Ed Campbell. 

Ms. Matheny: And, did they continue with the horse drawn bus for any length of time? 

Mr. Johnson: They drove the horse drawn bus for about two or three years, and then it came to a little old car, an old Chevrolet car. 

Ms. Matheny: Now, how many children were transported in that? 

Mr. Johnson: They transported, at that time, oh, I’d guess, about ten or fifteen children that way from the Cedar Ridge School district. 

Ms. Matheny: Well, can you tell us something more about the bussing of the children? 

Mr. Johnson: Well, then it was next handled by Mr. Lagg (sic), and his son, John.  They…homemade bus…. 

Ms. Matheny: Well, that’s interesting. 

Mr. Johnson: Then, after he had hauled about two years that way, then it was took over again by Mr. Campbell, who used a car. 

Ms. Matheny: And, when did they finally get to the regular bus owned by the county or by individuals? 
Mr. Johnson: The regular bus owned by individuals was brought into existence around 1929. 

Ms. Matheny: And, that continued until the time of integration? 

Mr. Johnson: That till the time of integration, but before that…and this…this…this regular bus was in 1929, and it’s given…and Marshall Scott…they separated the white and colored children, a colored man, William Bright, drove the bus until 19…until integration.  The…I believe…. 

Ms. Matheny: Yes, I can remember seeing the bus go by my house on the Crab Orchard Road…. 

Mr. Johnson: Yes, ma’am. 

Ms. Matheny: Bill Bright driving the bus. 

Mr. Johnson: Yes, ma’am. 

Ms. Matheny: And the children were always nicely behaved and Bill was a very polite kind of person and got along with the children well on the bus.  Well, that is very interesting how the school bus started, going from Crab Orchard to the…from these small schools to the Crab Orchard area. 

Mr. Johnson: That is right. 

Ms. Matheny: And, I really do thank you, Frank.  And, it may be…if you have some other information concerning this, we would like to have it later. 

Mr. Johnson: All right, I’ll do that. 

Ms. Matheny: This concludes our program at this time. 

Read, Search, Discover, Learn, Grow